If you read my blog (and you are! you're here after all), you know that there's precious little I haven't placed before you, an offering of trust and digital intimacy, the story of my life. You know how much pain I endured in Truman's birth (18 months ago to the hour, nearly), you know which coffeeshops I frequent, you might even know that I love Burgerville but won't touch Taco Bell. And on Monday, my boss asked everyone to tell the group something that couldn't be found on Google about them. I searched and struggled, and couldn't think of a single thing.
But now I know. The past 24 hours have been spent on a bittersweet and mostly solitary trip through my past, the part before I moved back to Portland, got engaged, got pregnant, bought a house...
Six and a half years ago, thereabouts, I moved to Reston, Virginia, at the insistence of my then-boyfriend. He had started a company, for which I'd already performed vast amounts of entirely free consulting, which would eventually be named ReturnBuy. I was to be Vice President of Planning & Analysis (a job for which I was uniquely suited, despite my rather unprofessional attachment to the CFO). The company was in Ashburn, just down the road from the headquarters of AOL, where I now work (remotely).
I've been working here for a week -- I'm flying home as I type this -- but Friday night was my first chance to go back to Reston, where I lived at 12024 Taliesin Place with the ex. The ex is the thing you can't find on Google. You don't know we dated. You've never seen a connection amongst us (well, there was a brief and mind-numbingly offensive note on a failed-company message board, but it's probably lost to the world by now). You've rarely, if ever, come across a mention of my time at ReturnBuy, or what life was like with him.
And I'm not going to go into any detail. All you really need to know is that the relationship was tortured and bitter, explosive and ugly. Despite all this we worked brilliantly together at the dotcom (doomed from an early decision by another executive to engage a $1 million-a-month Oracle backend, and did I mention the million-dollar website? The 250,000 square foot warehouse? Uh-huh). And we had many times that were good. I suppose.
Being in Reston, where our relationship went from difficult to utter misery, filled me with monstrous emotions. I regret the money I spent, I regret the agony of our arguments, I regret having tried so hard to make a relationship with him work when it was clear to all outsiders that I was stupid to have done so. I started to wish it all hadn't happened.
But as I rode my rented mountain bike up one hill and down another, as I let the cold brilliant October wind blow over me, as I dipped my tires in mud puddles and gravel ditches, as I admired the Virginia birches and maples, I felt a kind of peace. This part of my life is gone but I have so much to show for it. Not just the paragraph on my resume or the facility with venture capital (and bankruptcy law!) I now have. But because of where it led me. Without him there would be no sudden move back to Portland, no lovely husband [well, maybe we would have gotten together another way, but it hardly seems probable], no Everett, no Truman, no 1912 house, no odd string of jobs ending with this, one, perfect for me career in blogging, of all things.
Without the ex there would be no cafemama. And that's something I don't regret.